JWST Will Not Ravage the NASA Astrophysics Budget

by Kelle on December 8, 2010

Based on this article and some discussion with an insider, it’s worth contiuing our earlier discussion about the JWST mis-budgeting.

Exclusive: NASA’s Plan to Save Astrophysics From Space Telescope’s Budget Overruns | Wired.com

“They’re not going to ravage the astrophysics budget,” said Alan Boss, an astrophysicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and chair of the NASA advisory council astrophysics subcommittee, told Wired.com. “That is wonderful news.”

So, it turns out JWST was moved out of NASA’s Astrophysics budget (and management)—JWST now gets its own box. The hope is that this means JWST will not suck funds from other astrophysics research to pay for the telescope.

It’s also interesting to compare the relative costs of JWST and Hubble. Hubble would cost $5B in today’s dollars, vs the ICRP estimate of 6.5ish for JWST.

There will be a JWST town hall at the AAS (Monday, 6:30–8:30, Ballroom 6E). and hopefully there will be some folks from NASA HQ to address any lingering concerns on this topic discuss this serious issue with the astronomical community.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John O'Meara December 8, 2010 at 8:23 am

Just because JWST was given it’s own division doesn’t mean the Astrophysics division won’t suffer. All it means is that when they go to Congress for the money, and Congress says no, JWST will launch later, cost more, and eventually the division will have to swallow funds from other divisions. This is a shell game, nothing more.

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2 Eric G. Barron December 8, 2010 at 8:40 am

This little budget sleight-of-hand guarantees nothing. JWST gets its own box…so what. It still means NASA’s other programs will need to fit in smaller boxes so that all of those will fit in the overall NASA budget box.

I do, however, agree with your headline–it’s not JWST that will ravage the NASA astrophysics budget. The JWST overrun is just a symptom of the budget mismanagement disease prevalent in NASA (and not just at the top).

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